Building the s-160 class Consolidation, the ARR 550 class
(By Pat Durand)


After assembling two of the s-160 kits and making modifications to create Alaska Railroad #562 and #551 I feel confident in sharing lessons learned. The results have been very satisfying, with one of a kind models blooming from flat photo etched brass and pewter castings. Along the way I have made additions and modifications to increase tractive effort and electrical performance with DCC and sound capabilities. I hope to see a large fleet of these kits successfully built and to that end I will document the construction of the locomotives in photos and text to supplement the excellent instructions that come with the kit.

With the kit instructions inserted in page protectors in a three ring binder, you will be ready to start the project. My goal will be to provide short notes and photo support at each point in the process where I have made additions or changes, along with rational for the changes. You can then print and insert the notes in your binder. Following the kit instruction sequence will give form to my contribution to the effort.

My writing style is narrative and brevity comes only from extensive editing which I will not take the time to do initially. I plan this to be a living document, subject to change and modifications. If you find a better way, please share. Let me know at if you have questions, and suggestions. Please check in and give me regular progress reports on you project locomotive. Which locomotive prototype are you building? If you need more photo documentation let me know.

So who, if anybody, is interested in this information? My assumption is that most folks have never built a "craftsman" kit of a steam locomotive or used photo etched brass, or solder for assembly. Neither had I, so I will cover the very basic concepts of fabrication and soldering that work well with etched brass. I will make the first installment a tool list and describe some additions to your work bench that will help you keep your mind, while dealing with all those little parts. So sign in please.

A Step By Step Guide